Sunday, July 15, 2001

Hunger For Shared Reality

As much as I want to define my own reality, I have an equal desire to enjoy shared reality with people around me. And I don't mean the forced sharing that takes place with family and co-workers, the sharing that we assume will happen in a day. I mean the real intimacy of sharing myself and being accepted and understood by another, and accepting and understanding another.

In recent years, we have come to identify the "male bonding" experiences of watching sports (and drinking beer). Women have their own experiences, mostly shoe shopping and taking a bathroom break with your posse. Oh yes, and those endless telephone conversations. While those experiences are nice and typify shared reality, I really hunger at times for people who can share my experiences of reality and shifts in the assemblage point. I suppose that is the real reason why I'm writing this blog, other than the fact that writing reveals more of myself to me than any other process I've found. At least with this blog, there is the opportunity for shared reality. Maybe no one reads this at all, or maybe there are many lurkers out there. From the act of writing, I create a space for myself that takes the edge off my hunger.

For much of my life, I wanted to share my experiences as a way to validate them, to allow them to be real for me. It was a big shift when I started having experiences and thoughts that I just wanted to keep for myself. It was evidence that my journey had shifted inward, and was the beginning of some real depth in my character. Until that point, I could only hold one emotion at a time, and I expressed everything I felt as I felt it. Until then, I could never be angry with someone and smile at them in a moment. That kind of depth was beyond me, and seemed more like duplicity. I don't think of it as duplicity today. I understand today that there are many currents of emotions that run through me at every second, and I am choosing which stream to connect with, much like an old fashioned telephone operator chooses where to plug in a phone line to make a connection. I encounter people in my working world who I realize have not yet expanded beyond this sort of one dimensional reality, and it helps me to have appropriate expectations for them and conduct effective communication with them. One thing I have learned, still waters don't always run deep. Quiet people are not always thoughtful people. In fact, I've been shocked to discover the things that some quiet people have been thinking, especially since I had assumed they had depth.

I remember when I was finishing up college and doing my student teaching, I felt a strong wave of this hunger. I was working for the first time in a professional environment. My new life experiences were amazing to me, and I felt very much alive. I shared that reality with the other teachers and my students, so I didn't really have a need to talk about my day with my friends and close friends. However, I remember feeling that there was a slice of my life that wasn't shared. I wanted to share my experience of driving in to work each day. I still remember moments of those drives, in the middle of winter before the sun had begun to rise, driving through the countryside to the next town. Isolated homes light up the landscape as light flooded out their windows to their yards, providing beacons of warmth and connection I passed on my long drive. On those mostly cloudy mornings, I would watch the first traces of sunlight begin to illuminate the edge of the horizon, and only begin to see the light after I arrived inside my school building. It was a magical hour to be traveling, and it was that magic I wanted so desperately to share with someone, anyone.

In recent years, I have wanted to share some of my more mystical experiences of life with anyone who can appreciate my view of the world. I have an ongoing hunger to this kind of connection. It has caused me to invite people to hang out in my world that I would not otherwise have kept around me, and the lack of real compatibility did eventually untie the bond between us. There are moments when I feel this hunger strong and I fight against the overwhelming need to share, preventing me from making myself into a fool by sharing with someone who can't understand what I'm about. It's been a curious process.

It seems that no one wants to really have a unique reality. We all want to share overlapping reality with the people we love and trust. Perhaps that is why we love and trust them, because they overlap our reality.

I woke up from a dream last week where I was calling off an engagement. It seems that the relationship was a long one, and marriage was the next logical step. Right before the big day, my guy asked me if I was sure I wanted to do this. I suspect that he was really looking for a confirmation of my feelings for him. To his surprise, and to my own, instead I realized that marrying him would not be horrible, but it was not what my heart really wanted. So I called it off, and without any regrets or emotional suffering from the shift. Just a realization and boom! A decision that caused a major change in direction. No big deal. This dream left me with a lingering feeling, that I want to live the life of my heart's desire, not continue along the in the same direction just because things are lining up before me. How appropriate for the challenges I face in my life today!

I don't want to love people just because they share my reality. I want to love people because my heart floods when I'm around them. I want people in my life that allow us to create our own reality instead of so much adjusting to fit into each other's realities. This is what I want.